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Tony Grist

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Benny Hill [Mar. 15th, 2010|10:18 am]
Tony Grist
Most comedians lose their mojo somewhere along the line.  The sacred cows they prodded in their youth roll over and die- and they carry on prodding them. A man prodding a dead cow? Not funny- and the crowd wanders off into another corner of the field.

Benny Hill's comedy was rooted in the sexual repression of the 50s. Along came the sexual revolution- and a new openness- and his leery double-entendres and jokes about inflatable breasts- once cheekily daring- were now too mild and too furtive.  He carried on regardless- and the TV bosses axed his show and banished his tapes to the most cobwebby corner of the storeroom.

He got a bum rap. We were watching him yesterday- and a lot of his stuff is still very funny. The darkly brilliant sketch (prophetic of Alan Partridge) in which he plays a smarmy chat show host whose guests drop dead  and expose themselves and answer questions monosyllabically had me laughing out loud.  Yes, there were also the slightly embarrassing jokes about dirty old men and funny foreigners- but other comics of the same generation- the Two Ronnies for starters- worked the same sort of material- and got away with it. Hill was scapegoated. Someone should have taken him aside and offered him a sit-com or asked him to play Bottom or Touchstone. There are ways of prolonging a career in comedy- and it's a shame that Hill- who was both a very funny man and a TV pioneer- should have ended his so bitterly.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: suemars
2010-03-15 11:37 am (UTC)
my son is 28, when he was 2 he loved benny hill. he would just laugh and laugh at that show. it was pretty funny.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-15 12:58 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of clever visual comedy in Hill. Apparently Charlie Chaplin thought he was the best- and kept a complete set of tapes of Hill's shows in his Swiss chateau.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-15 01:22 pm (UTC)
I thought he was a nauseating dirty little perv.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-15 02:16 pm (UTC)
Well, there's that as well....

But you could always argue that he was poking fun at the rampant male libido- and was often the butt of his own jokes.

What you get with him is the whole obsessed-with-but-terrified-of-sex schtick that you also find in the Carry On comedies. It's of its time.

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[User Picture]From: sovay
2010-03-15 04:36 pm (UTC)
There are ways of prolonging a career in comedy- and it's a shame that Hill- who was both a very funny man and a TV pioneer- should have ended his so bitterly.

One of the nicer bits V for Vendetta (2005) was their Benny Hill homage, presented by Stephen Fry.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-15 05:19 pm (UTC)
I think there may be a Hill revival underway...
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-03-15 05:18 pm (UTC)

Ailz & her dad

so sorry to hear Ailz's dad is poorly and that she has been running herself ragged. Glad you are looking after Ailz too! PLease send love to Ailz and best wishes for her dad and mum.
We've been away in France for a few days and experienced the return of winter- big time. We had some lovely walks in the snow and ice with fabulous views. On the way there and back we stayed in Toulouse; a vibrant, beautiful old city which is also full of students - second only in number to Paris.
Thanks for reply to Ian - I'll tell him to have a look on his blog.
love Jenny x
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-15 05:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Ailz & her dad

Thanks.

I love the South of France. Wish I was there now!
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[User Picture]From: burkesworks
2010-03-20 12:22 am (UTC)
Someone should have taken him aside and offered him a sit-com or asked him to play Bottom or Touchstone

He did actually play Bottom once - in a 1964 ITV production (now there's something you'd never get nowadays), alongside a very of-its-time cast including Patrick Allen, Peter Wyngarde, Alfie Bass, and Bernard Bresslaw. By all accounts he didn't do a bad job.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-20 09:10 am (UTC)
That's a collection of names to conjure with!

They should put it out on DVD- or did they wipe the tape?

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